The Federal Railroad Administration has a special department known as the “Office of Railroad Safety” that oversees rail system safety throughout the nation. It operates out of eight different regional sites around the country. The office employs 400 safety inspectors and administrators whose responsibilities include making sure railroad companies across the country, including in Connecticut, comply with various regulations and safety standards in order to lower the risk for railroad accidents.
The inspectors’ work is divided into five main safety categories that include motive power and equipment, hazardous materials, signals and other train controls and operating practices. A failure to comply with existing safety rules can have disastrous results as made evident in several recent derailments where workers suffered injuries in collisions that were likely preventable. The Office of Railroad Safety investigates all reports of train worker injuries or fatalities on the job.
Railroad employers are required to report employee injuries within a certain amount of time. Injured workers employed by railroad companies have the ability to file personal injury claims against their employers under the Federal Employers Liability Act if employer negligence is suspected as a causal factor in a particular incident. This is different from most industries throughout the nation where injured workers may claim benefits under workers’ compensation but are generally prohibited from suing their employers on grounds of personal negligence.
The regulatory and inspection duties of the Office Railroad Safety are designed to help keep workers and train passengers safe. Many times, investigations following railroad accidents lead to updates and changes in railroad safety regulations if officials believe such changes may prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. If a Connecticut railroad worker suffers injury and believes that an employer has failed to comply to regulations set forth by the Federal Railroad Administration, the worker may seek legal support to discuss options for seeking recovery of his or her losses.
Source: fra.dot.gov, “Railroad Safety“, Accessed on May 16, 2018